Saudi aid agency continues water, food projects in Yemen

Saudi aid agency continues water, food projects in Yemen
1 / 4
KSrelief distributed 32 tons worth of food baskets in Al-Bayda governorate, benefiting 1,800 people. (SPA)
Saudi aid agency continues water, food projects in Yemen
2 / 4
KSrelief distributed 32 tons worth of food baskets in Al-Bayda governorate, benefiting 1,800 people. (SPA)
Saudi aid agency continues water, food projects in Yemen
3 / 4
KSrelief distributed 32 tons worth of food baskets in Al-Bayda governorate, benefiting 1,800 people. (SPA)
Saudi aid agency continues water, food projects in Yemen
4 / 4
KSrelief distributed 32 tons worth of food baskets in Al-Bayda governorate, benefiting 1,800 people. (SPA)
Short Url
Updated 11 July 2021

Saudi aid agency continues water, food projects in Yemen

Saudi aid agency continues water, food projects in Yemen
  • This initiative is part of the humanitarian and relief support provided by the Kingdom, represented by KSrelief, to the Yemeni people

RIYADH: The King Salman Humanitarian Aid and Relief Center (KSrelief) continued the implementation of its water supply and environmental projects in Yemen’s Hodeidah governorate.

In one week, 315,000 liters of drinking water and 315,000 liters of water for other purposes were pumped into tanks across the region.

KSrelief also distributed 5,378 boxes of dates to refugees, orphans and the neediest families in Yemen’s Socotra governorate, helping 5,378 people.

The move comes within the framework of the date distribution project, estimated at 5,000 tons of dates, covering all the Yemeni governorates.

KSrelief also distributed 32 tons worth of food baskets in Al-Bayda governorate, benefiting 1,800 people.

This initiative is part of the humanitarian and relief support provided by the Kingdom, represented by KSrelief, to the Yemeni people.

Meanwhile, KSrelief clinics in Jordan’s Zaatari refugee camp provided 656 beneficiaries with medical services.

The general medicine clinics helped 183 patients, while the internal medicine clinics assisted 43 patients. The pediatric clinics took in 111 individuals and the emergency department received 42 people, while 46 people were provided with dental clinic services.

 


Saudi soldier who died in Iraqi prison finally home and at rest

Saudi soldier who died in Iraqi prison finally home and at rest
Updated 12 sec ago

Saudi soldier who died in Iraqi prison finally home and at rest

Saudi soldier who died in Iraqi prison finally home and at rest
  • Capt. Abdullah Al-Qarni was captured in Kuwait during first Gulf War; his death was not discovered until after Saddam’s fall

MAKKAH: After three decades, Capt. Abdullah Al-Qarni, a Saudi soldier who was captured by Iraqi forces during Operation Desert Storm and died in an Iraqi prison, finally returned home this week.

His remains arrived at King Abdulaziz airport on Oct. 21 and were taken to Makkah for funeral prayers and burial at the city’s Cemetery of Martyrs.

The chain of events that led to his death began on Aug. 2, 1990, when Iraqi forces invaded Kuwait and took over the capital city within a matter of hours. The surprise attack was the beginning of a seven-month occupation of the country. In response, troops, tanks, artillery, ships and aircraft from more than 40 allied countries, led by the US, mobilized and gathered in the Saudi Arabia’s Eastern Province and the capital, Riyadh, for Operation Desert Storm, with the aim of driving the invaders out of Kuwait.

By Jan. 17, 1991, an allied force of more than 600,000 ground, sea and air troops had assembled and an aerial and naval bombardment began. This was followed a week later by a ground assault. Al-Qarni was among the troops.

Most of the casualties during the 42-day war were among the Iraqi troops, with some estimates suggesting as many as 35,000 were killed. Dozens of allied troops also died. Among the Saudi forces, 18 were killed and 32 wounded. Eleven Saudi prisoners of war were later returned unharmed to the Kingdom. 

The exact circumstances that led to Al-Qarni’s capture remain unknown but it was eventually confirmed he was in a prison in Iraq and apparently died there at some point in the decade that followed, though the details are unclear. Years of efforts by Saudi authorities to have his remains returned home to his family were finally rewarded this week.

The martyred soldier’s brother, retired Saudi navy veteran Saleem Al-Qarni, and cousin, Saleh Salman Al-Qarni, told Arab News that he had died a noble death, serving his nation until the very end.

Before the war, they said, he had bid his three daughters and wife farewell and left their home town of Shaaf in Qarn, in Asir region, and headed to Riyadh for some military training.

“A few months before the Gulf War in 1990, my brother was chosen among a group to train in Al-Muzahimiyah (west of Riyadh),” said Saleem. “After more than a month, the brutal attack on Kuwait occurred and they were ordered to go directly there on military missions.”

He said that his brother did not hesitate to join the fight but it is believed that after about five days in action he was captured and taken to Iraq. The family was informed and the Saudi government continued to monitor the condition of detainees. Saleem said his brother was believed to still be detained in Iraq when US-led forces invaded the country in 2002.

After the death of former Iraqi President Saddam Hussein and the fall of his regime, however, no trace could be found in any prison of Al-Qarni or a group of his friends. Later, his remains were identified and the family faced a new battle to have them returned. But they never gave up hope and, with the help of the Saudi government, continued their campaign.

“The government also did a thorough follow-up of all necessary procedures, until his remains were identified and taken back home,” said Saleem.

“My brother died fearlessly defending our country. God granted him the honor of martyrdom while he was defending the region with his colleagues who knew of the sacrifices and were loyal, fearless and defended their country to the very end.”

In 2004 the family had a death certificate issued the following year, Saleem married his brother’s widow to take care of her and his three nieces, the youngest of whom Abdullah only saw for a day before shipping out. Together they had two more daughters and remained together as a family until she died in 2019.

Saleem explained that his parents endured a lot of suffering as a result of what happened to his brother. Because his whereabouts were unknown until his death was confirmed, they had clung to the hope that they might be reunited. His father died in 2000 and his mother in 2015.

Saleh said that the martyrdom of his cousin while defending his country was a source of the utmost honor, pride and nobility. He was very religious and loyal to his homeland and king, he added, and did his duty without hesitation for the sake of his country and region.

“We bid him farewell as a body and soul and welcome his remains,” said Saleh. “This situation creates mixed feelings of pain, loss and pride. We are comforted that he honored his duty. We lost his pure soul and beautiful spirit in the darkness of Iraqi prisons.”


Middle East faced wave of cybersecurity threats since start of pandemic

Middle East faced wave of cybersecurity threats since start of pandemic
Updated 5 min 16 sec ago

Middle East faced wave of cybersecurity threats since start of pandemic

Middle East faced wave of cybersecurity threats since start of pandemic
  • The researchers issued 49 threat intelligence reports due to investigations associated with cyberattacks on the UAE
  • In the VMWare report, a survey of 252 Saudis showed 84 percent of them said that cyberattacks had increased due to working from home

RIYADH: Since the start of the pandemic, a wave of advanced threat campaigns targeting the Middle East have been discovered by Kaspersky, a global cybersecurity firm.

An APT is an attack campaign in which intruders establish an illicit, long-term presence on a network to mine highly sensitive data. The targets, which are carefully chosen and researched, typically include large enterprises or government networks.

The region has always been a hotbed for such attacks due to geopolitical factors.

Kaspersky researchers, keeping a close eye on the region for APTs, worked on 68 investigative reports related to 29 cyber gangs actively targeting the Middle East since the start of the pandemic.

The researchers issued 49 threat intelligence reports due to investigations associated with cyberattacks on the UAE, which endured the highest number of reports for all Middle Eastern countries.

The second highest was Saudi Arabia with 39 reports, followed by Egypt with 30. Kuwait and Oman had 21 each, while Jordan had 20. Iraq, Qatar and Bahrain had fewer than 20 reports each.

APT attacks primarily targeted government agencies, followed by diplomatic institutions, the education sector, and telecommunication institutions. Other targeted sectors included finance, IT, healthcare, legal, military, and defense.

Some of the APT groups investigated were Oilrig, WIRTE, Lazarus, and Sofacy.

Fatemah AlharbI, a cybersecurity expert and assistant professor at Taibah University, told Arab News: “PowerShell-based malware are utilized by advanced cyberattacks targeting critical infrastructures in Saudi Arabia.”

She said these cybercriminals were sending phishing emails that contained malicious Microsoft Office files impersonating legitimate entities.

To pass the firewall and the email protection techniques, she explained, these rigged files were protected by passwords and compressed as zip files.

“This approach facilitates the mission of these cybercriminals to take full control of the file system and to compromise every single file there. This means they would be able to control the operating system, applications, and data. Assuming the attack is detected, an in-depth analysis and investigation on the file system is highly recommended as a quick response to recover the system and stop the attack.”

Referring to a report by Bitdefender, a cybersecurity technology company, Alharbi said: “Researchers shed light on a well-known APT cyber espionage campaign that targets mainly critical infrastructures in Saudi Arabia.This threat group is called Chafer APT (also known as APT39 or Remix Kitten). The report shows that these cybercriminals rely on social engineering to compromise victims in Saudi Arabia.

“Technically, the attack tricked victims to run a remote administration tool located in the downloads folder, similar to the RAT components used against Turkey and Kuwait back in 2014 and 2018, respectively.”

Despite these threats, Alharbi said the Kingdom’s cybersecurity resources had proven their ability to face such dangers.

“Saudi Arabia is ranked No.1 in the MENA region and Asia and No.2 globally according to the Global Cybersecurity Index issued by the UN’s specialized agency in information and communications technology, the International Telecommunication Union in 2021.”

This indexing evaluates countries periodically based on five main axes: Legal, technical, regulatory, capacity-building, and cooperation. The Kingdom scored advanced points in all of these axes, she said.

Amin Hasbini, head of the global research and analysis team for the Middle East, Turkey, and Africa at Kaspersky, said: “Our cybersecurity experts have always been at the forefront of detecting and reporting the latest APT threats. Our reports are the product of their visibility into the cybersecurity landscape and promptly identify what poses a threat.

“We use these insights to, of course, alert the concerned organizations on time and provide them with the protection as well as intelligence needed against both known and unknown threats. As companies move towards digitization, especially due to the pandemic, it is more important now than ever before to know about the threats that are constantly evolving.”

According to a recent report from Kaspersky and VMWare, working remotely during the pandemic made Saudi employees vulnerable to cyberattacks.

In the VMWare report, a survey of 252 Saudis showed 84 percent of them said that cyberattacks had increased due to working from home.

Alharbi talked about methods to protect users from social engineering threats. “Recently, we see a rise in the number of cyberattacks that are based on social engineering. According to a recent report by PurpleSec, 98 percent of cyberattacks rely on social engineering. Cyber criminals prefer to use social engineering techniques that can expose a victim’s natural inclination to trust easily compared to implementing malwares or any other tools to hack systems.

“For that, organizations must strengthen and diversify their cybersecurity awareness tactics, such as publishing cybersecurity awareness content, in-class training, videos, simulations and tests,” she said.


Saudi Arabia unveils road map to achieve a carbon-neutral future

Saudi Arabia unveils road map to achieve a carbon-neutral future
Updated 37 min 57 sec ago

Saudi Arabia unveils road map to achieve a carbon-neutral future

Saudi Arabia unveils road map to achieve a carbon-neutral future
  • Saudi Green Initiative forum in Riyadh attended by energy and environment officials and decision-makers
  • Kingdom aims for “net zero” carbon emissions by 2060 while preserving its leading role in energy markets

DUBAI: Saudi Arabia, the biggest oil exporter in the world, has committed itself to a carbon-neutral future at the Saudi Green Initiative in Riyadh.

Announcing a plan to reach “net zero” in carbon by 2060, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman on Saturday said the move was in line with the Kingdom’s development plans, “while preserving and reinforcing its leading role in the security and stability of global energy markets.”

Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman announcing a plan to reach net zero by 2060 at the opening of the Saudi Green Initiative forum. (Screen grab from SGI video)

In a related announcement, Amin Nasser, the president and chief executive of Saudi Aramco, revealed plans to make the world’s biggest oil company a “net zero” operation by 2050. “The road will be complex and the transition will have challenges, but we are confident we can meet them and accelerate our efforts to a low-emission future,” he said.

The pledges were the most eye-catching items on a day when Saudi Arabia reasserted its ambition to lead the world in the battle against climate change, while retaining its traditional leadership in oil and gas markets.

Amin Nasser, the president and chief executive officer of Saudi Aramco,  (AN photo)

Nasser added: “We are not abandoning our existing sources of energy, but investing in new sources as well.”

Also notable was a commitment to double the amount of carbon the Kingdom will cut in its domestic economy, removing 278 million tons of the pollutant per year by 2030.

“These initiatives aim at modifying the Kingdom’s energy mix, rationing and increasing the efficiency of energy production and use, and investing in new energy sources, including hydrogen,” the crown prince said.

He also unveiled the first phase of the plan to eventually plant 10 billion trees in the Kingdom over coming decades, with an initiative to plant 450 million trees by 2030, rehabilitating 8 million hectares of degraded land, and allocating new protected areas, to bring the total of protected land in Saudi Arabia to more than 20 percent of its total.

Saudi Arabia aims to plant more than 10 billion trees in the next two decades as part of the Saudi Green Initiative.

Much of the domestic initiative will be focused on the capital Riyadh, already in the middle of a “green” regeneration. “The transformation of Riyadh into one of the world’s most sustainable cities is already underway,” the crown prince said.

The first set of the new “green” initiative would require investment of SR700 billion, boosting job creation in Saudi Arabia and presenting investment opportunities for the growing private sector, in line with the Vision 2030 strategy to reduce economic dependency on oil.

But it was the net zero commitment and the pledge to remove twice as much carbon than before that caught the attention of the hundreds of attendees in Riyadh, coming as it did just days before the start of the UN’s COP26 summit on climate change in Glasgow, Scotland.

Fahad Al-Rasheed, president of the Royal Commission for Riyadh City. (AN photo)

The Kingdom joins a growing number of countries that have pledged net zero by 2060 — such as China and Russia — rather than the accelerated goal of 2050 some Europeans and North Americans want.

INNUMBERS

278 million tons of carbon will be removed by 2030 in the Kingdom.

10 billion trees will be planted in Saudi Arabia over the next decades.

13 million Saudi Arabia’s new oil production capacity in bpd.

Some environmental activists have in the past criticized the Kingdom for not adopting a net zero target, and for not doing more to cut domestic carbon output. The new targets will go a long way to satisfying critics of the Kingdom as part of the debate on “nationally determined contributions” (NDC) that could figure prominently in COP26.

Nasser said: “We have to consider that this announcement comes from the biggest hydrocarbon producer in the world. To make that type of commitment is something great, and I’m sure others will follow the leadership of the Kingdom.”

Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman, the Saudi energy minister, thought that the Kingdom could meet the net-zero commitment before the 2060 timetable, using the framework of the Circular Carbon Economy, which aims to reduce, reuse, recycle and remove CO2 greenhouse gasses.

Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman, Saudi energy minister, speaking during the forum. (AN photo)

He said that technologies to help meet the new targets would be fully mature by 2040, boosting the plans to meet the goals and providing an example to others.

“The Kingdom is not seeking financial support or grants to achieve this NDC and it will use the best suited technology to do so,” the minister stressed.

“We can shift our energy mix by using 50 percent in empowering the power sector and all utilities, therefore 50 percent will be done on renewables and the other 50 percent will be the development of more gas. That 50/50 will be a major component in that reduction we have discussed,” he said.

Speaking to journalists on the sidelines of the event in Tuwaiq, Nasser explained that Aramco would meet its 2050 deadline by focusing on emissions from its own wholly owned facilities, and not from its overseas operations, where it was “out of our control.”

Sultan Ahmed Al-Jaber, UAE special envoy for climate change. (AFP)

Nasser said that there was no contradiction between its net-zero goal and Aramco’s strategy on increasing oil production, pointing out that Aramco crude was less polluting than other types of oil, and that it was also planning to introduce strict controls on methane output, which is potentially more harmful than CO2.

He added that because of a shortfall in energy investment in recent years, spare capacity was declining fast in the global industry. “With the opening of economies there will be more usage of hydrocarbons, more need, more demand, and you will end up in not a good situation.

“We’re doing our part by maintaining our 12 million bpd, building capacity by an additional 1 million barrels, but the rest of the world needs to do its part. Demonising the hydrocarbon industry is not good to help anyone,” he added.

Abdullah Al-Swaha, Saudi Minister of Communication and Technology. (AN photo)

The SGI event will be held every year, allowing for a check on the Kingdom’s progress towards its goals on climate change. “We want to be held accountable,” Prince Abdulaziz said.

There were three areas of focus, he added: “Energy security, sustainable economic growth and prosperity, and attending to the serious issue of climate change. We can achieve all three without compromising a single one of them.”

The new Saudi commitment was a message to the world, the prince said. “It enables us to say that we are with you. We share the same concern. We want to evolve.”

Amro Madani, CEO of the Royal Commission of AlUla. (AN photo)

But he insisted that some of the more extreme solutions, like banning hydrocarbons and halting investment in oil and gas, were not practical proposals for dealing with climate change.

“The world cannot operate without fossil fuels, without hydrocarbons, without renewables … none of these things will be the savior. It has to be a comprehensive solution,” he said.


King Salman receives telephone call from UN secretary general

King Salman receives telephone call from UN secretary general
Updated 23 October 2021

King Salman receives telephone call from UN secretary general

King Salman receives telephone call from UN secretary general
  • Guterres praised initiatives announced by the crown prince at the Saudi Green Initiative forum
  • King Salman stressed the Kingdom's interest in environmental issues, clean energy and climate change

RIYADH: King Salman received a telephone call from the UN secretary general Antonio Guterres on Saturday.

During the call, Guterres welcomed the Saudi Green and Middle East Green initiatives, and praised initiatives announced by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman at the Saudi Green Initiative forum held in Riyadh.

Guterres said he considered the initiatives a major step in protecting the environment and facing the challenges of climate change.

The king thanked the secretary general and praised UN efforts in confronting climate change, and steps taken by the organization to reduce the phenomenon’s environmental and economic effects.

King Salman also stressed the Kingdom's interest in environmental issues, clean energy and climate change as part of Vision 2030.


Experts take part in hackathon to provide technical solutions for charity work

Experts take part in hackathon to provide technical solutions for charity work
Updated 23 October 2021

Experts take part in hackathon to provide technical solutions for charity work

Experts take part in hackathon to provide technical solutions for charity work
  • The event was hosted by the Charitable Committee for Orphan Care Ensan and was aimed at developing charity work in modern ways
  • Prizes amounting to SR300,000 ($80,000) were awarded

RIYADH: Hundreds of experts took part in an innovation hackathon to provide technical solutions for charitable work.

The event was hosted by the Charitable Committee for Orphan Care, Ensan, and was aimed at developing charity work in modern ways, helping specialists and stakeholders to improve performance in ways that would be reflected in the quality of life for beneficiaries and the provision of services.

It sought to raise the efficiency of charity workers and improve their performance, harness technology to facilitate the lives of orphans, and develop technical solutions to raise financial revenues for charitable societies.

It also sought to develop knowledge management through the exchange of data and information, and employing modern technology in the work of charitable societies.

Another aim was to create solutions to help the government and private sectors to adopt and sponsor technical projects that could be supported in the charity sector to bridge any technology gaps.

The hackathon also sought to enhance the role of the semi-government and private sectors in the field of social responsibility.

Prizes amounting to SR300,000 ($80,000) were awarded and the winners were nominated by a committee consisting of 12 judges, 15 mentors in various technical fields, and specialists from the charity sector.

Team Arshad won first place and received a financial prize of SR120,000. Team “Liyabqa” came in second place, winning SR80,000. 

Team Mu’awan came in third place and received SR45,000, the “In Lans” team came fourth and received SR35,000, while team “Kafu” placed fifth and received SR20,000.